Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Patrick J Lopeman 1893-1971

Patrick Lopeman was born at Riverstown in 1893 (although army records sometimes list 1894). Over the next decade, his parents Patrick senior and Letitia (Sometimes listed as Alicia) moved with the family between several addresses in Kildare and Birr.

Patrick worked as a painter. In Lopeman’s youth his family suffered from economic hardship, living in lanes around Birr like Mount Sally which were essentially slums. His 10-month older sister Agnes died of hydrocephalus in May 1904. In November 1905 his 6-month-old his brother James died of convulsions, 3 months later James’s twin sister Esther died of whooping cough and pneumonia, By the 1911 census Patrick Lopeman senior had died and the family were spread across different addresses. 18 year-old Patrick was living in a boarding house at High Street Birr with his younger sisters Bridget and Catherine. 

Lopeman’s family had longstanding links to the British army. His cousin, brother-in-law and brother were all in military service at the beginning of the Great War. Joining the Leinster Regiment in 1915, he served in the Balkans as part of the 10th Irish Division on the Macedonian/Salonica Front where he contracted malaria.

Deployed to Belgium as the war neared its completion he reenlisted in the Connaught Rangers after the Armistice. The Rangers had been severely depleted in the early years of the war and several veteran from other regiments were recruited to bring their battalion strength up to the required numbers. On a return trip to Birr, he married Sarah Barkley who worked as a housekeeper in Birr RIC barracks.

By 1920, Lopeman and the Connaught Rangers were deployed to the Punjab of India. On 28th July, 4 Rangers serving at Jullundur informed their superiors that they would no longer solider in the British Army in protest at the activities of the crown forces in Ireland. When these men were placed in custody, a large number of their comrades at Jullundur including Patrick Lopeman joined the mutiny in solidarity.

A standoff developed between the Mutineers on one side and their officers and those troops who had not joined the mutiny on the other. When work spread to a military outpost at Solon in the foothills of the Himalayas, more Rangers joined the mutiny.

Both groups of Mutineers asserted their rebellious streak by singing rebel songs and displaying tricolours. The Mutiny ended after a few days but not before the loss of life. While the protest at Jullundur was largely peaceful, privates Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears were shot dead when mutineers armed with bayonets attempted to capture the Solon armoury. Sears was probably an uninvolved bystander killed by a stray bullet.  

61 men were convicted at the court marital which followed the mutiny and 14 were sentenced to death. All but one was reprieved. James Daly from Tyrellspass, who had led the attack on the Solon armoury was executed by firing squad at Dagshai prison on 2nd November 1920. Another prisoner John Miranda from Liverpool died while imprisoned in India.

In August 1920, Patrick Lopeman was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for his role in the munity and transferred to Woking prison in England from where he was released in early 1922. Returning to Birr he worked as a labourer on building projects and council road works.

In 1932 he led a protest march of the Birr unemployed and met with the urban council to discuss way of alleviating hardship among the town’s working class . A member of the ITGWU, he was elected to the town council as a Labour representative and served for 2 years.

His wife Sarah passed away in 1935. In the early 1940s Lopeman moved to a new house High Street, one of a series of homes built as part of a slum clearance project in Birr.

In 1963 Lopeman was one of several mutineers interviewed by Sam Pollack for a BBC radio documentary and subsequent book ‘Munity for the Cause’.

James Daly, Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears were disinterred and return to Ireland for burial in 1970. The remains of Liverpudlian Joseph Miranda still lay at Dagshai.

Patrick Lopeman passed away in February 1971 and was buried at plot 128 in Clonoghill cemetery Birr.

The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of PJ Dooley and Stephen Callaghan

Note on other Offaly connections to the mutiny.

Joseph ‘Forty’ Walsh Tullamore was convicted of mutiny and imprisoned in Walton Gaol, Liverpool. During his incarceration he composed a ballad on the mutiny. He served in the National Army and later moved to Dublin. On his death in 1948, he was buried at Clonminch cemetery with military honours provided by the Tullamore old IRA.

Michael Fitzgerald of Birr was given a life sentence for his role in the mutiny and was one of the last mutineers in custody.   

Jack Lloyd of Tullamore who later emigrated to Scotland was acquitted at court martial and discharged.

Edward Horan. Boolinarig. Took part in mutiny, but was not charged before a court martial.


Sources:

1901 and 1911 Census. Search online at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/

Military Service Pension Collection. Patrick Lopeman Con.Ran.10. Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923/search-the-collection

PJ Dooley. Lopeman Family History Research.

Irish Independent. 2 November 1932.

Irish Press. 18 June 1934.

Leinster Reporter. 20 May 1916. 13 November 1916.

Midland Tribune. 20 February 1971.

Nenagh Guardian. 17 September 1932.

Nenagh News. 1 April 1922.

Offaly Independent. 20 July 1963. 3 April 1965. 7 September 1968.

Sources on addition note…

Military Service Pension Collection. Patrick Lopeman Con.Ran.10. Joseph Walsh Con.Ran. 149. Edward Horan Con.Ran.201.  Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923/search-the-collection

Freemans Journal. 18 October 1922.

Offaly Independent. 1 April 1922. 2 November 1935. 22 March 1952.

Derry Journal. 2 November 1921. 11 October 1922.

Irish Independent. 9 December.

Leinster Reporter. 11 November 1922.

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